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Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2014 Jan 14;12:7. doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-12-7.

Which tinnitus-related aspects are relevant for quality of life and depression: results from a large international multicentre sample.

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Centre for Clinical Studies, University Hospital Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, Regensburg 93053, Germany.



The aim of the present study was to investigate, which aspects of tinnitus are most relevant for impairment of quality of life. For this purpose we analysed how responses to the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and to the question "How much of a problem is your tinnitus at present" correlate with the different aspects of quality of life and depression.


1274 patients of the Tinnitus Research Initiative database were eligible for analysis. The Tinnitus Research Initiative database is composed of eight study centres from five countries. We assessed to which extent the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and its subscales and single items as well as the tinnitus severity correlate with Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score and different domains of the short version of the WHO-Quality of Life questionnaire (WHO-QoL Bref) by means of simple and multiple linear regression models.


The THI explained considerable portions of the variance of the WHO-QoL Physical Health (R2 = 0.39) and Psychological Health (R2 = 0.40) and the BDI (R2 = 0.46). Furthermore, multiple linear regression models which included each THI item separately explained an additional 5% of the variance compared to the THI total score. The items feeling confused from tinnitus, the trouble of falling asleep at night, the interference with job or household responsibilities, getting upset from tinnitus, and the feeling of being depressed were those with the highest influence on quality of life and depression. The single question with regard to tinnitus severity explained 18%, 16%, and 20% of the variance of Physical Health, Psychological Health, and BDI respectively.


In the context of a cross-sectional correlation analysis, our findings confirmed the strong and consistent relationships between self-reported tinnitus burden and both quality of life, and depression. The single question "How much of a problem is your tinnitus" reflects tinnitus-related impairment in quality of life and can thus be recommended for use in clinical routine.

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